Archive for November 2011
- photo by Mitch Waxman
Pharisees of modern times adjure adherents to boycott Halloween, claiming it is the devils holiday. Your humble narrator notes the scriptural and historic ignorance displayed by viewpoints such as this, as Halloween and the concurrent Hallomas are the very definition of Christian observance and a celebration of the entire thema of the messiah.
As always, I must state that I’m not trying to incite a pogrom or crusade here, and no attempt is made to mock or denigrate another’s faith. It’s just that western history is defined by the history of the Roman Catholic church in particular, and the aim of the autumnal holiday period of Halloween and Hallomas was to rob the holiday away from a horned god who was the epitomization of the devil itself to the early church.
In Western Christian theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. It is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries. In the Roman Catholic Church and many Anglican churches, the next day, All Souls’ Day, specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual communion between those in the state of grace who have died and are either being purified in purgatory or are in heaven (the ‘church penitent’ and the ‘church triumphant’, respectively), and the ‘church militant’ who are the living. Other Christian traditions define, remember and respond to the saints in different ways.
- photo by Mitch Waxman
The eternal wars between the Latin and German cultures, which stretch back into prehistory and are punctuated by the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, continued after the Frankish conquest of the former Roman lands. The military supremacy of the Franks lost out in the end to the philosophical and political prowess of the Romans, long after the last Italian soldier dropped his shield.
Christianized, the hordes of barbarous northerners nevertheless celebrated the feast days of elder times on or near what the Irish called Samhain, and the associated pantheon of cultic heroes and forest spirits which were part of that belief system were never forgotten. Taking a page from the Roman book, they merely called them “Heroes“. These heroes would later be called Saints.
Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
- photo by Mitch Waxman
Simplistic and literal interpretations of scripture which ignore poetry, subtext, and veiled meaning often result in zealotry and persecution of otherwise mundane or wholesome topics. Warnings against witchcraft, conjuring, and fortune telling in the old testament are easily understood when one discover that the Phonecian and Samaritan cultures which had nested in the land of Canaan prior to the “arrival” of the Hebrews maintained a dualistic “god and goddess” based faith whose priesthood were reknowned for prophecy and magick. It is no accident that the names of their deities- Dagon, Anat, Baalat, Lotan, Moloch- read like a list of infernal powers and potentates. Their gods were literally “demonized”.
The first wife of the primal man, Adam, was (the succubus and demon) Lilith for instance. A female too willful to exist in Eden, she was expulsed and excommunicated to dwell amongst the deserts and mountaintops (by the angel Lucifer, I would add). Coincidentally, these desolate and lonely places where Lilith dwelt were the very spots where the Canaanites sited their temples. In the nocturnal wasteland, she was meant to have met and bred with the Yesidi god Satan, and their millions of children were first called the Lillim by the Hebrews, and later the Djinn by the Muslims. The Christians call them Legion, for they are many.
My opinion, by the way, is that the particular prohibitions against male homosexuality in the old testament has much to do with the Pharisee’s political relationship to Cyrus the Great of Persia and the mutual disdain which the Hebrews and Persians maintained toward the Hellenes. Incidentally, Jesus Christ is actually a Latin barbarization of a Greek transliteration of an Aramaic name, after all, and the godhead was likely known as Yeshua Ben Yosef to the apostles.
Samhain (/ˈsɑːwɪn/, /ˈsaʊ.ɪn/, or /ˈsaʊn/) is a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularized as the “Celtic New Year” from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer. The date of Samhain was associated with the Catholic All Saints’ Day (and later All Souls’ Day) from at least the 8th century, and both the secular Gaelic and the Catholic liturgical festival have influenced the secular customs now connected with Halloween.
- photo by Mitch Waxman
This is the beginning of the season of the wolf, the arrival of the dark days of winter, and a celebration of another successful harvest. The wheel of the year turns, the physical and metaphysical cycle continues on. This is no celebration of the Devil, the denied god of the crossroads ever anxious to return to prominence. In strict and early Catholic diabology, the devil is considered to be the greatest servant and most ardent admirer of the throne, so devoted that serving in hell as the adversary is a holy calling. In this worldview, the Devil would indeed deserve a holiday.
How can one perceive light, without shadow?
Solemnity celebrated on the first of November. It is instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful’s celebration of saints’ feasts during the year.
In the early days the Christians were accustomed to solemnize the anniversary of a martyr’s death for Christ at the place of martyrdom. In the fourth century, neighbouring dioceses began to interchange feasts, to transfer relics, to divide them, and to join in a common feast; as is shown by the invitation of St. Basil of Caesarea (397) to the bishops of the province of Pontus. Frequently groups of martyrs suffered on the same day, which naturally led to a joint commemoration. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. But the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all. The first trace of this we find in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. We also find mention of a common day in a sermon of St. Ephrem the Syrian (373), and in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom (407). At first only martyrs and St. John the Baptist were honoured by a special day. Other saints were added gradually, and increased in number when a regular process of canonization was established; still, as early as 411 there is in the Chaldean Calendar a “Commemoratio Confessorum” for the Friday after Easter. In the West Boniface IV, 13 May, 609, or 610, consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs, ordering an anniversary. Gregory III (731-741) consecrated a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all the saints and fixed the anniversary for 1 November. A basilica of the Apostles already existed in Rome, and its dedication was annually remembered on 1 May. Gregory IV (827-844) extended the celebration on 1 November to the entire Church. The vigil seems to have been held as early as the feast itself. The octave was added by Sixtus IV (1471-84).